Diabetes conference features triathleteParticipants in the 14th annual Head of the Lakes Diabetes Update conference can expect to get a dose of star power. Jay Hewitt, a member of the U.S. National Team for Long Course Triathalon, business litigation attorney and motivational speaker, has been featured in numerous publications, including Guideposts and Diabetes Health.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Participants in the 14th annual Head of the Lakes Diabetes Update conference can expect to get a dose of star power. Jay Hewitt, a member of the U.S. National Team for Long Course Triathalon, business litigation attorney and motivational speaker, has been featured in numerous publications, including Guideposts and Diabetes Health. On Oct. 6, he will stop in Superior to share the story of how being diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes didn’t slow him down.
“Even though you have diabetes, you can still do a lot of things,” said Michele Hughes, outreach specialist for the center for continuing education/extension at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
Not everyone can take a 2.5-mile swim, follow it up with a 112-mile bicycle run and cap it off with a 26.2 marathon run, she admitted, but they can be active their own way.
“We have a climate that isn’t always conducive to people exercising year-round,” Hughes said, but regular exercise can make the body more efficient at using insulin. And the heavier people get the more insulin they need to break down the sugars in their bloodstream.
“Getting in shape can prevent that,” said Hughes, a former public health nurse. “Losing weight can prevent that too.”
Yet in 2008, 28.4 percent of the people aged 20 years and older in Douglas County were obese and 20.8 percent of people aged 220 years and older were physically inactive, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Both community members and professionals can get the latest information on diabetes treatment and research at the conference, which takes place from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. They can also get some common-sense advice on things like reducing their chance of getting seasonal infections.
Dr. Timothy Quinn, an ophthalmologist at St. Luke’s and the Miller Creek Medical Clinic in Hibbing, will speak about how diabetes can affect the eyes. There are higher risks of complication in the eyes, kidneys and brain for people who have the disease, Hughes said.
The effect of high blood sugar on inflammations in the body like arthritis will be discussed by Dr. Raymond Hausch, a rheumatologist at Essentia Health. The higher the blood sugar, Hughes said, the worse the arthritis is.
Christine Day, clinical specialist and coordinator of diabetes services at the Duluth Family Medicine Residency and Clinic, will discuss the use of an insulin pump with input from a local person who uses one. She will also talk about pre-diabetes, a condition people can have for as long at 10 years before it is diagnosed. Symptoms of pre-diabetes include excessive thirst, fatigue and sores that don’t heal, Hughes said.
There are 2,720 people living with diabetes in Douglas County, according to the Department of Health Services estimates. Another 1,010 residents have the disease, but remain undiagnosed. Add to that the estimated 11,860 people age 20 and older who have pre-diabetes in the county. The disease becomes more prevalent with age. While only 2.5 percent of people ages 18-44 have diabetes, 27.2 percent of seniors have the disease.
Diabetes is costly. In 2009, the estimated cost of the disease in Douglas County alone was $47.9 million (including direct and indirect costs). Statewide, diabetes cost $6.15 billion in health care costs and lost productivity. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the state, claiming more 1,100 lives each year.
“It’s just staggering,” Hughes said. But a good preventative program, including an emphasis on good nutrition and exercise, could bring the costs down and make the later years of those with the disease more pleasant.
The annual diabetes conference serves a vital purpose, said Hughes.
“There’s always new information,” she said, pointing out a recent study that showed nasal insulin may help treat Alzheimer’s disease. The conference is also a chance to connect with health care providers in the community as well as vendors with the newest items.
This year’s conference is also dedicated to John Kunz, who held Hughes’ position in previous years and helped start the annual diabetes events 14 years ago. He was the guiding force for offering dual-track conferences for both professionals and the general public. Kunz died in July.
“John’s personal mission was to always empower the community whenever he could,” Hughes said.
There is a cost to attend the conference, which includes breakfast, lunch and afternoon break. Professional attendees may be eligible for continuing education credits. For more information or to register, call (715) 394-8469 or (800) 370-9882 or look it up on the web at www.uwsuper.edu/health.
More information on diabetes is available through the following websites: The Wisconsin Diabetes Prevention and Control Program at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/health/diabetes/ and the American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org/